By Jim Stanford on May 9, 2012
Now that Jackson has become a destination resort for anti-abortion protesters, residents are responding in creative ways.
First Brad Watsabaugh started a Facebook campaign called Protecting ElkFest with Love. Then an even bigger group formed, Jackson Hole United, that sought to deflect and defuse the first round of protests earlier this week.
The town’s decision to restrict free speech last summer backfired horribly, giving the zealots what they seek most: conflict. Having raised considerable publicity and cash following their organizers’ arrest, the crazies announced their intention to return to the Boy Scout antler auction and ElkFest on May 19. And even crazier crazies joined the fray this week.
Before Brad and Jackson Hole United took action, several of us had discussed exercising our right to free speech in concert with the protests. Send a message using the contact tab above if you want in. It ought to be amusing.
“Rather than feeding the hatred and ugliness that the abortion protestors thrive on, we will surround and drown them in love and compassion!” reads the purpose of Protecting Elkfest with Love. Add humor to the mix.
Jackson Hole United did an excellent job Monday helping parents steer clear of the protests with their kids, who were the intended targets for images purportedly of dead fetuses and such. The group has swelled to nearly 2,000 members, including those who oppose a woman’s right to choose abortion but deplore the protesters’ methods.
It should be noted that while media reports have characterized the protests as the work of outside groups, there are several residents actively aiding them, including none other than the vice chairman of the Teton County Republican Party, Jeremy Aughenbaugh.
“Hey OSA!” his wife wrote on the group’s Facebook page in June. “This is Felice and Jeremy up here in Jackson WY! We loved meeting you guys and catchn’ the vision! We are 100% commited as a Jackson chapter! We will be the forerunners! Big HUGS to all!”
The hugs Jackson Hole United and Protecting ElkFest will be giving under the banner of “Civility, Compassion, Love” ought to be more effective.